International consulting firm Synpulse recently hit an innovation milestone, having organised its first ever global leadership townhall in the metaverse. Hosted in a metaverse ‘land’, the event featured leadership keynotes, an expo hall, dancing on the (meta) beach and virtual fireworks.
The metaverse allows people to create a 3D avatar of themselves that can attend meetings in a virtual space and interact with co-workers’ avatars – in theory, replicating the feeling of being in the same room as their peers.
Synpulse’s metaverse event was hosted in the metaverse from Virbela, a virtual world platform built specifically to solve the challenges of remote collaboration, so that more than 100 leaders from the company’s 17 offices worldwide could take part.
“For a company that prides itself on being one step ahead of the technological adoption curve, Synpulse knew our team had to ‘walk the talk’ and test out this emerging technology to understand its potential applications for both us and our clients,” said Ingo Muschick, Senior Partner and Head of Strategy at Synpulse.
Keen to understand more about Synpulse’s metaverse adventure, and how the next-generation technology could help companies (and consultancies) with their decision-making, we asked Muschick to reflect on the firm’s first-in-the-kind townhall meeting:
Designing a tailored metaverse experience
Our employees (or ‘Synpulsians’) attended the event using human-form avatars, personalised to resemble their real-life counterparts. Some employees ‚clothed’ their avatars in business casual, while some opted for more daring options like bright yellow suits with bowties.
Given the ability to tailor an events space to your company’s culture, we took full advantage of optimising the space for a variety of different activities. A blend of meta-activities brought excitement to the event, and our venue featured an expo hall where leaders could browse the latest innovative work by colleagues from all over the world.
There were also opt-in workshops and interactive sessions on topics including the future of consulting, managed cloud services, and asset-based consulting. The whole team had a chance to come together for a townhall presentation by CEOs Konrad Niggli and Yves Roesti, followed by an interactive Q&A.
To wind down after a hard day’s work, Synpulsians danced on the meta-beach, attended informal networking events, and enjoyed virtual fireworks display to celebrate the milestone. We used this opportunity to experiment with different use cases and features – putting the underlying technology to the test to see if it could facilitate casual conversation and social interaction, and ultimately keep our team engaged.
How can your business get started in the metaverse?
For a business that had no prior experience of hosting events in this format, finding the right option for us took some time. Luckily for those in a similar position, there are plenty of avenues to explore.
Providers like Virbella enable you to a straightforward, stable and up and running metaverse that allows customisation of your own event, and quick adoption to its platform – time-saving and cost-efficient as opposed to building your own virtual world – a timely and costly endeavour for those only wishing to dip their toes in without committing to long-term engagements.
Metaverses can easily accommodate different events, but choosing the right platform depends on the type of event you’re going to host, the number of users, and what functionality you need. Before you explore the available options, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is it for? How many people do you expect to attend, are they equally tech-savvy, and how are they likely to interact – via games, networking, or chats?
- What is it for? When considering the format, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what capabilities will be necessary – will people need to present, network in separate rooms, or make speeches?
Is the metaverse a good alternative to videoconferencing platforms?
Of all the major paradigm shifts in the world of work over the past few years, the humble meeting remains a critical fixture. Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams have come to dominate the world of corporate communications – but how does the metaverse compare to these more established technologies?
The metaverse allows for more natural interaction, unencumbered by the pitfalls of videoconferencing software. For one, our Synpulsians did not have to take turns speaking and interacting with others – asynchronous conversations could take place throughout the townhall. You could have spontaneous meetings and discussions when you got close to a person or group, and there were also circles you can enter where those on the outside wouldn’t be able to overhear your conversations.
Beyond planned breakout rooms, such meetups are near impossible to replicate on traditional platforms. The ability to move to different events and discussions at will was elevated by the ability to personalize different elements of the experience – from the avatars themselves to the activities being hosted.
The overall consensus was that the metaverse experiment was a good alternative to a virtual meeting, bringing a new dimension to the gathering, reflective of a real conference rather than just an online meeting. But despite being more engaging and interactive, some feedback suggested that it still falls short of physical get-togethers.
While it no doubt offers a much more satisfying physical nuance and casual proximity than what you might expect from a screen, the reality is that people’s emotions, expressions and actions are still largely confined to the limits of their 3D avatar. As the technology progresses, however, there is no reason to suggest that these sticking points won’t be ironed out.
Lessons learnt from the metaverse townhall
As with any new technology, teams should prepare themselves for an operational learning curve at the beginning. The initial upfront investment of time and effort isn’t negligible – but it was certainly worth it in Synpulse’s case, as it allowed us to create impact over and above any normal virtual event.
For the team that is organizing the event, there is some work to do to complete the set-up, including understanding which files work on the software, what people need to do to be able to access the event, and creating a branded location that projects the company culture. That said, compared to a real-life conference or meeting, the preparation involved is a lot lighter!
Employees will need to download and set up their avatars beforehand and test the software to ensure they won’t have any issues accessing the event. For the majority of people, this process took less than 15 minutes to complete, at which point they had everything they needed to participate in the townhall.
Despite not being perfect (there were some niggling issues with people struggling to join the event at the start), the fact that we did things differently with completely new technology made the team very proud. We’ll use this experience as a building block for future exploration of innovative solutions that will bolster our global collaboration.
The team welcomed the opportunity to try out a new way of holding meetings, with some suggesting that it could easily be a replacement for other meetings to optimise the budget and create a positive impact by significantly reducing the need for human travel.
In terms of improvements, one thing we may consider next time is to elevate the personalisation elements – solutions now exist that allow users to see a person’s actual face upon approaching them, rather than simply their avatar. This is likely to make the experience that little bit more personal and help people forge more meaningful connections.
Using the event to accelerate the 2025 strategy
The event represented a key moment to reflect on the progress so far of our 2025 business strategy, also called Diamond Strategy. It focuses on ensuring that Synpulse is at the cutting-edge of innovation in the financial services and insurance industries.
Earlier this year, we launched our financial services technology division under the name Synpulse8 – bringing together our full suite of technology offerings, solutions, and software alliances under one umbrella. The townhall in the metaverse further demonstrates how we continue to push the boundaries of possibility in the financial services space, using our own operations as a test case.
The event helped boost our internal community engagement and promote the entrepreneurial spirit we encourage amongst employees. In the long-term, we know that companies who are willing to trial new innovations will be the frontrunners to attract top tech talent and provide the latest innovative solutions and sustainable value to clients.
It was an experiment that certainly paid off and we now have squads exploring the possibilities of bringing the metaverse to our clients in the very near future.